Panelists give harrowing accounts of national tragedy
THE SANTA CLARA
April 30, 2015
Witnesses to the social, political and military atrocities that took place during the 1947 Partition of British India spoke on campus Tuesday night about their life experiences.
The partition is deemed the largest mass displacement in the 20th century.
Almost two million died in the communal violence that accompanied the partition, and up to 25 million — one percent of the world’s population at the time — were uprooted during the 1950s.
One speaker, named Fauzia Parviz, called herself a “child of the partition.” Parviz was in her mother’s womb as her family was forcibly displaced from Punjab, India, and ultimately ended up in Punjab, Pakistan.
She said her father’s factory was taken over, causing him to dive into shock and depression, which drove him to attempt suicide in front of a railway.
Parviz’s uncle, a member of the Peace Committee, was murdered, and a note written with his blood stated, “End of Peace Committee.” Through tears, Parviz said that he was a true martyr.
“My mother told me, ‘I carried you through the holocaust of our country,’” Parviz said. “This is the story of my family.”
Major Jagjit Singh, who was was 21-years-old during the partition, said it did not solve anything, since there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan.
“It was no doubt a turning point in the history of India,” said Saiyed Irfan Ahmad, another witness to the partition. “But at what cost? How fortunate you people are to not know such things from unfortunate persons like me. Otherwise, they would all be lost. Only memory will linger. Let it never be forgotten. Let the coming generations know to what extents of blood we have passed through.”
The host of the event, 1947 Partition Archive, is the first official effort to document the life stories of people affected by the partition.
With the help of volunteers who interview witnesses of the partition, the organization has documented over 1,000 stories in nine different languages.
It is through this project that many of the interviewees have spoken out about their traumatic experiences for the first time.
“The life stories of partition witnesses need to be preserved before they are lost forever,” said Farhana Afroz, a founding Board Member of the archive. “I have learned that people are eager to tell their story and we need to reach them as soon as possible. This is history and we need to preserve it.”
Contact Nanki Bhullar at firstname.lastname@example.org.